Georgia: Agriculture Ministry creates new platform Forest Friend

Tbilisi: On the initiative of the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture, a new platform, “Forest Friend”, was created. Platform presentation was held at the Botanical Garden. The event was attended by the Minister of Environment and Agriculture Otar Shamugia, representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited in Georgia, the business sector and environmental NGOs.

 Minister Otar Shamugia, Chairman of the Parliament’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee Maia Bitadze and the permanent representative of the United Nations Development Program in Georgia, Nick Beresford, spoke about the importance of forest awareness and community involvement in protection measures.

“Forest is our treasure and unique natural resource that needs care, care and protection. Our event today is also serving this. Through this platform, our goal is to enable citizens, alongside industry professionals, to engage in forest preservation and conservation efforts. It is important that we unite to protect and take care of our unique resources. 

Recently, we have implemented a number of important activities to ensure sustainable forest management. The first thing I would point out is the new Forest Code, which is completely in line with European requirements. However, there are still some challenges related to the illegal exploitation of forests.

 We have held a number of events in this direction and have specific initiatives that plan to strengthen the Department of Environmental Supervision. Of course, it’s important for the community to be part of this process, and this is the platform that will give us the opportunity to do that,” Otar Shamugia said.

 The Minister, while speaking, thanked donor organizations for the effective implementation of the regulations under the New Forest Code, both for financial support and for sharing knowledge and competencies.

“This initiative, led by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia and personally Otar Shamugia, is very important. We are delighted to have been funded by the United Nations Development Program’s Biodiversity Financing Initiative (BIOFIN). 

“They are implementing very important initiatives all over the world, and we are confident that this will be one of their successful projects in Georgia,” said Nick Beresford.

 Chairman of the Parliament’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee Maia Bitadze noted that it is important to strengthen the component of community involvement in the forest sector.

 “On behalf of the Georgian Parliament, I express my full support to the platform that was created today as a result of the Ministry’s work. I think this will be another very important platform”, – said Maia Bitadze.

 The voluntary platform “Forest Friend” was created by the National Forest Agency of the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture under the UN Development Program (UNDP) Biodiversity Financing Initiative (BIOFIN).

 The platform “Forest Friend” invites everyone – private companies, volunteers, as well as individuals and groups around the idea, to contribute and take immediate participation in reforestation events.

Participants registered on the platform will keep an eye on the progress of their selected projects and receive interesting and useful topical information from both industry experts and environmentalists.

 Given the forest areas with renewed forest management plans for 2023, the target regions for forestry are Kakheti, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Guria, and Racha-Lechkhum-Kvemo Svaneti. From 2024, the platform will cover all nine regions.

Zurab Kvaratskhelia

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